About Us

The Friends of Downs View School & Link College has been established since 1992. A registered charity, made up entirely of volunteers who are parents/carers of children who attend the school or one of it’s other sites, depending on the age of the young person and some members of staff.

Downs View caters for a diverse population of children and young adults with moderate to severe learning difficulties, Autism, physical and cognitive disabilities and some with very challenging behaviour. The curriculum they follow has been designed to meet their individual needs and ensure that they receive the very best educational experience possible, delivered by a team of outstanding and dedicated staff.


The two main aims of The Friends are:


To raise additional funds to provide much needed specialist resources and equipment, the cost of which cannot be covered by the overstretched school budget. These items enhance the learning experience of the students, giving them improved methods of communication and interaction, play and therapy opportunities and the chance to go on trips that broaden their horizons. We know what a positive impact this has on their well being and development and in turn, on their families.

What we have achieved to date:

Through our fundraising over many years, we have been able to provide an outdoor adventure playground on the school site, a totally refurbished soft play room with a hoist facility, ‘eye gaze’ technology so the most challenged can communicate and participate in learning and also wheelchair accessible minibuses so the young people can be taken out to experience new places and activities.

The Friends have also purchased djembe drums for the older students at the Link College for music therapy and an opportunity for communal music making and interaction. This has been made possible by the fantastic efforts of the committee who put on events such as curry and quiz nights, raffles, Christmas Fayres and also other parents and their families and friends running marathons, 10k, going on treks, bike rides and climbing mountains! And of course, the generosity of other organisations willing to support us.

Our current project:

To fund a purpose built trampoline room on the school site which would be of huge benefit to all the young people, regardless of their additional needs, providing exercise, sensory stimulation and therapy. More sensory and soft play equipment is also needed in other areas of the school.



The other and just as important aim of the charity, is to bring Downs View families together. Having a child with additional needs is challenging and can be isolating. Some families find it almost impossible to do even simple things like visit their local playground due to a lack of accessible equipment, or the fear that their child’s behaviour will be judged by others.

So The Friends put on ‘play dates’ where families can come onto the school site at weekends and use the outdoor play area. This means their children can play safely in a familiar environment and parents get a chance to relax a little and meet other families. We stage an annual Summer Fun Day which is a free event for families, with the emphasis on having fun and a safe, non judgemental space to enjoy some quality time, with activities, entertainment and refreshments. We also hold coffee mornings with the aim of bringing parents/carers together.

Obviously, many of our events have been curtailed by the pandemic, like so many other charities. Our young people and their families deserve the very best life experience possible and The Friends of Downs View do their utmost to play their part in making this happen. We are hugely grateful for any support external organisations feel they can give in helping us achieve our aims.


Committee Members – Friends of Downs View School & Link College

Chair: Lisa Burgess
: Peter Mapledoram
: Michelle Edser
: Nickie Poulton, Harriet Rafferty, Lana Hall, Guy Passey, Julia Stone,
Amber Bayley, Priya Eaglestone, Suzanne Mapledoram, Will Taylor, Jacqui Downs,
Sarah Luxford, Keely Lewis.
Honorary President: Adrian Carver
Exec Head: Vanessa Hickey